I have three points to make.
My first point: the church building is not to be hoarded, but is for the benefit of the local community.
In the words of William Temple, "The Church is the only organisation that exists for the wellbeing and fraternity of its non-members." The Church is called to participate in, as D. L. Migliore put it, "God's society of love" — His restorative plan for the whole of creation. For local churches, this work begins in the local community, and it is our conviction that the church building can and must be used to effectively engage with that community. The church building does not exist simply to facilitate the Sunday gathering, but should be a blessing to the local community, believers and nonbelievers alike. Purposeful, spacious, environmentally friendly, accessible architecture does not come cheap. But where in Scripture does Jesus persuade his followers to give half-heartedly? The investment in church architecture will reach beyond the immediate church community into the wider community.
My second point: We are to be good stewards of God's good creation.
A cheap and cheerful, Swedish-designed kitchen table from Ikea will do the job. At least for a few years, until the composite wood and weak frame begin to reveal their true nature. "Why didn't we buy that mahogany table from the local shop in town?" the couple ask themselves. Yet even the second time round, the couple return to Ikea to view the new stock and return home with another cheap table. The cycle is a vicious one. Christian communities should be committed to fostering respect and justice for the whole earth. This involves thinking sustainably. Cheap design and construction is a waste of both money and resources. How will that building look in twenty, thirty or fifty years? What financial burden will be placed on future generations? To borrow again from the table analogy, why spend £100 on a table from Ikea which lasts three years when you could spend £300 on a...
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